Russia won back the rights to the Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya vodka brands after fighting businessman Yuri Shefler in Dutch courts for more than a decade.
The two trademarks belong to Russia, the Rotterdam district court ruled Wednesday. The decision forces Shefler’s Dutch company Spirits International to hand over the trademark rights to the country or pay a penalty of €100,000 ($109,700) and face an additional daily fine of €50,000, the court said.
The ruling, which can be appealed, will force Shefler’s company to stop the sale of Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya vodka in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
It follows a legal battle that started in 2003 and forces Shefler’s company to pay Russia damages for the duration of its use of the brands. The decision sets a precedent for other cases pending worldwide including the US Australia, Switzerland and 12 European Union countries, said Joris van Manen, a lawyer at Hoyng Monegier LLP, the law firm which represented Russia.
“Yuri Shefler took possession of the vodka trademarks after the collapse of the Soviet Union and has exploited them since,” Hoyng Monegier said in a statement.
The decision is “not correct in light of the facts,” SPI Group, the owner of Spirits International, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are examining all of our options for the next steps. In any case, the decision affects only a small part of our overall global market.”
Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland